Travel Theme: Gardens (+Victor Hugo quote)

The travel theme this week is GARDENS (more here at wheres my backpack).

cucumber being choked by the net
This is a cucumber, which got tangled in the net.
I actually cut this off – with the net- and gave it a friend who was
recovering from a big divorce – he loved it! (he had a choking ex…)

In this post, I wanted to show you a few of my favorite garden pictures and share how I started gardening.  I also want to share one of my favorite quotes from Victor Hugo. 

garden snow from the viburnum snowball bush

How I started gardening:

I started gardening here in Richmond because the builders put in some plants that died.  I proudly put in a couple of Henry’s Garnet shrubs – and a few easy to grow Glads, and then I began to explore.  Soon I became an official part-time gardener.

bee inside the rose of sharon flower

After a few years of putting in greenery and flowering beauties, a practical side of me came out in 2008.  I wanted to try growing edibles.  Make that – I was determined to grow tasty and delicious organic goodies that could be enjoyed and shared with others.  I wanted to try a small veggie and herb garden project in Denver in the mid 90’s (because our first home had a covered plot leftover from Ruth, the former homeowner), but that idea stayed dormant because life was crazy busy.

And so now, finally, I was going to try growing fruits, herbs, and veggies!!  And not only did flowers take a back seat, but I started to look down on them and viewed flowers as less important – and less worthy!  However, that quickly changed and I learned later – after a solid year of only growing edibles – that both had value. And even though edibles have a “flower” – well it does not replace the beauty of certain annuals and perennials!

mini crop from my garden blackberries from the garden garden photo with peppers, rosemary, and garlic

I learned that both are important – flowers AND veggies!

bee on a zinnia flower

I realized this actually at the start of the next year.  It was early in 2009 – late in winter – and I noticed some glowing, bright color from two different spots in the yard. I was looking at early patches of phlox, which were blooming to announce the coming of a new season. It was an amazing sight to see – it was simple, yet breathtaking color.

It was like turning on the light of spring after a very dim and cold winter.  

Those little pink and purple phlox spoke to me so much – all month long – and I knew every garden has to have room for  BOTH – and a quote from Victor Hugo’s Les Mis came to mind: 

 “The beautiful is as useful as the useful.”  “More so, perhaps.”

snow from snowball bush
Graden Snow (from my snowball shrub – Viburnum)

That quote comes from the early pages in Les Misérables – when Hugo is highlighting the character and personality of the Bishop (the same guy that invested the silver candlesticks into Jean ValJean — and showed him grace that would change his life).  The quote comes from a scene when he was out gardening one day and he was asked why he bothers having a flower bed…. when he could grow salad in that are oaf land – which could feed even more of the poor and hungry.  But the Bishop replies that the beautiful has a useful role too! Now that is tasty!

the candlesticks from Victor Hugo's Les Mis book

Below I have included the actual text form Les Misérables so you can read it for yourself.

The garden, which had been rather spoiled by the ugly buildings which we have mentioned, was composed of four alleys in cross-form, radiating from a tank. Another walk made the circuit of the garden, and skirted the white wall which enclosed it. These alleys left behind them four square plots rimmed with box. In three of these, Madame Magloire cultivated vegetables; in the fourth, the Bishop had planted some flowers; here and there stood a few fruit-trees. Madame Magloire had once remarked, with a sort of gentle malice: “Monseigneur, you who turn everything to account, have, nevertheless, one useless plot. It would be better to grow salads there than bouquets.” “Madame Magloire,” retorted the Bishop, “you are mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful.” He added after a pause, “More so, perhaps.”

Read more of Les Misérables here!

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6 thoughts on “Travel Theme: Gardens (+Victor Hugo quote)

  1. Love your garden! It reminded the veggie garden I had… The drought the we have faced make it very challenging to garden. Les Miserables is my most favorite book.

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    1. Hi – well I only grow very few veggies – not even really enough to share! lol. and that one photo of the veggies (above) well for the last two years it is all that I get in one full week. (well excluding berries and apples when they come in). Thanks for the comment. 🙂

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